Because planning a program doesn't just take 5 minutes

The Homework Machine

Program Plan:

Make ready-to-bake cookies in the toaster oven while going over the discussion questions.  Then create your own gadgets/machines out of recyclable materials – styrofoam, cardboard, pipe cleaners, paper, etc.


Next month – Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech.


What Happened:

This program has been very small this year, so I had two families, both with dads.  Neither of the dads had read the book, but the kids had a pretty good discussion.  (We didn’t do all of the questions; no one chose #1 or #5).

Making the cookies in the toaster oven during the program was ok.  The room smelled fantastic!  But I forgot to watch them and didn’t have  a timer, so most of the batches were a little bit overdone.

The project was super fun, and both families stayed about 15 minutes extra.  One boy built a homework machine.  It had slots for writing sample, homework in, and homework out.  His dad helped by making two identical homework sheets, one without and one with answers.  You fed in the one without answers, and the one with answers came out.  The other boy built a fidget spinner maker.  Fidget spinners are all the rage right now.  His machine had a slot where you put a drawing of the spinner you want, a place to indicate color, and then a slot for the spinner to come out into a tray.

Definitely a fun night!


Possible questions for discussion:

  1. If you had a machine that could do your homework for you, would you use it?  Why or why not?
  2. If you could create a machine that did one task for you, what would it be?  Why?
  3. Miss Rasmussen became suspicious when the D Squad seemed to become such good friends.  Have you ever had a friend who was really different from you?  Why do you think you were able to get along?
  4. Several times in the book, the adults said they should have known something was wrong, but they looked the other way.  How much do you think parents and teachers really know about what goes on in kids’ lives?  Kids, do you think the adults in your life know too much, not enough, or the right amount about what you’re up to?  Why?
  5. At the end of the book, Sam says about Brenton: “Brenton just does his own thing. He’s one of these guys who is so uncool that he’s cool. You know what I mean? You reach a point where you cross the line into coolness.” Do you agree? What makes someone cool?
  6. Brenton got lots of kids to wear red socks, and the D Squad got them to wear their clothes inside out.  If you were going to get every kid in America to do something for one day, what would it be?  Why?
  7. Judy says, “In some situations, you can’t tell the difference between right and wrong so easily. Like driving faster than the speed limit is wrong, but if you’re rushing to the hospital so that a baby can be born, then speeding is okay.” What are some times when you had a hard time deciding if something was right or wrong?



  •  (Questions 5 & 7 came from them, but we also independently came up with a lot of the same questions.  This book has so many good discussion points!)

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